UK firms still covet royal approval as Queen hits record 63rd year

Wed Sep 2, 2015 7:13am EDT
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By Angus Berwick

LONDON (Reuters) - You may have noticed it above the door of a perfumery in London, in the inner lining of an expensive custom made suit, or even on a packet of English Stinking Bishop cheese - the gold emblem of the British monarchy.

Over 800 companies in Britain hold the royal warrant, a certificate for providing goods and services to the royal family. Still coveted by Britain's small businesses, it allows the use of the Crown's coat of arms in their branding.

Queen Elizabeth, who on Sept. 9 becomes Britain's longest ever serving monarch, each year grants around 20 more warrants, which date back to medieval times when tradesmen competed for royal favor.

"It makes a statement about that business that it has achieved a certain level of quality," said Richard Peck, secretary of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

At Gieves and Hawkes, a tailor on London's Savile Row, their earliest warrant hangs on the wall, an elaborate parchment detailing King George III's request for velvet caps.

Since 1912 Gieves and Hawkes have been fashioning the red and gold uniforms of the Royal Bodyguard. Each one takes over 110 hours to intricately stitch together, said Matthew Crocker, who manages production of the military outfits.

Gieves and Hawkes said they were proud to remain holders of the warrant.

"It is a beautiful thing to have," said Andrew Gomez, Gieves and Hawkes' longest serving employee who estimated that he had made 11,000 jackets during his 41 years on Savile Row, where people from around the world come for a hand-crafted suit.   Continued...

A commemorative stamp (R) from 1990 with depictions of Britain's Queen Elizabeth (R) and Queen Victoria (L) is seen next to an 1840 Penny Black stamp with Queen Victoria on it at Stanley Gibbons in central London, Britain, August 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Toby Melville